The online social media frenzy has added a new member: Pinterest. You may have heard of it due its explosive growth in popularity, or maybe curiosity got a hold of you and you are one of the millions of people that have joined the invite-only platform.
But a network with such a large user base has a lot of value beyond sharing pictures. Companies that have something visual to share can leverage Pinterest as marketing platform. Some already have. And are already seeing results. Companies in the fashion industry are very well suited to make the most out of Pinterest for their business. And so are restaurants!
Because some early results have been shown to be very effective for some companies, there is a lot of hype surrounding the possibilities of using Pinterest for marketing. And because it is a very new network, being one of the early adopters can give you a competitive advantage.
But you can’t just jump in without a plan! Let’s delve a little deeper…
What is Pinterest?
Pinterest is essentially a visual online scrapbook, or pin board, where individuals can post (“pin”), browse and share images from across the web.
The visual format of the network has contributed to its explosive growth. And while the network is still invite-only, Pinterest is the fastest website in history to reach 10 million monthly unique visitors.
But just having users isn’t enough. If you are going to be using a platform to target customers, you want to be targeting the right customers.
Pinterest’s customer base is skewed heavily towards females. The average age is between 25 and 34, and the average user has at least some college education. Some sources site the average income of users is between 25k and 75k per year; but also estimate that almost a third of the users have annual household incomes of $100,000 or more.
This means that there are plenty of buyers using Pinterest!
We have already established that there is a consumer base on the network; and that the network is a very visual one. Also, the ability to share pins (“re-pin”) enables content to spread quickly.
Taking these things into account, if you go into Pinterest with a good marketing strategy, you can use it to…
1. Tap Into a New Audience. Because the user base is so large, and content spreads so quickly, there is a very good chance you will get your restaurant’s name in front of new eyeballs. And the best part? It’s free.
2. Create Brand Awareness. With a proper game plan and some consistency, you can establish your brand, and deliver your brand message, on Pinterest. Brand awareness builds trust, loyalty and sales.
What to Pin
Your pins are the center of your Pinterest marketing universe. What you pin will determine the kind of interactions you will have on the network, and if you will have any interactions in the first place.
At first glance it seem like restaurants can be a bit restricted as to what they can share on Pinterest. In reality there is a wide range of content a restaurant can pin…
• Images of Food. Did we already mention that Pinterest is a highly visual platform? All of the images you share should be high quality — but especially images of your food! If you are sharing items from your menu you want them to look appetizing — you want people to want to try them. And remember to link the images back to your restaurant’s menu!
• Images from Events. If you hold events at your restaurant, images from the events are definitely shareable. This allows you to display just how much fun people have at your establishment. You can also share images prior to the event to promote it (i.e. flyers, images from past events, etc).
• Images of the Space. Atmosphere is extremely important in the dining experience. If you have a wonderful space that you want to showcase, feel free to show images of it!
• Ingredients. More than ever, people want to know what their food is made of and where it comes from. Sharing the ingredients you use allows them an inside look and allows you to convey quality.
• Inspirations. If there is an inspiration for a drink or food item on the menu, why not share it? It gives your restaurant a more personal/human touch. This can also spur a conversation — Pinterest is a social network after all.
• Action Shots. You can share images of your servers or bartenders interacting with customers.
• Images from External Sources. Got mentioned by a local newspaper or a blog? Pin it!
• Any Brand-Relevant Content. Really, you can pin anything that is in tune with your brand. For example, an Italian restaurant can pin images of Italy. This enforces your Italian brand — especially if it is consistent with the décor of the restaurant.
Remember that you shouldn’t have solely promotional pins. Your goal is to spur an interest or even spar conversations. The more connection you make, the wider you can spread your reach. Some promotional content is certainly OK, but you want to mix in things that are “interesting.”
What to do After the Pin
Your job isn’t finished once you pin an image to Pinterest. At least it isn’t if you are doing your job right.
Make sure to leverage other social networks by sharing your pins on Facebook and Twitter. You want to maximize your reach.
When people “like” or “re-pin” your images make sure to thank them. Begin to interact with other users on the network. It is important to remember that this is a social network, and it only work if you are being social.
Don’t stay in the silo of your own pin boards. Browse around and “re-pin” others (if it is appropriate). This is how you can begin to interact with other users. Remember, other users are people too. You can use this to your advantage by re-pinning industry leaders such as restaurant critics, food blogger or foodies with large followings. Maybe they will return the favor…and that spells success!
Eugene Farber is marketing manager for TVI, a national branding, design and interactive agency. He can be reached at [email protected].